How the “Freshman 15” is like the “Office 25”

How the “Freshman 15” is like the “Office 25”

We’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15” which refers to the average 15 pounds a college freshman puts on when away from home for the first time. Finally on your own and free to eat unlimited quantities whatever you want, possibly on a college “unlimited” meal plan. There’s also a lot of change happening at this time in life with a new home, no more high school and new people. All of this stress can trigger overeating.

The Freshman 15 is similar to the “Office 25”, which is a term that I just made up, but refers to an average 25 pounds that an office worker will put on in a sedentary job.

Sedentary, like engineering. There is no typical engineering job; some are in factories, some are on assembly lines, some have excessive travel and some are in front of a computer. But as a generalization, I think it is safe to say that a normal engineering job does not involve a lot of physical activity and often involves a lot of free and freely available food. And seconds are always available.

Donuts or bagels arrive with the morning vendors. The idea is that you, the engineer, associate the switch or battery vendor with a sweet, free breakfast. And therefore want to invite them back. In a small company, this happens once a week, in a bigger organization every day. Organizations that have big conference rooms with catered meetings also have a never ending supply of muffins, pastries and coffee with half and half. As soon as the meeting clears out, all of us engineers are in that conference room fighting over who gets the chocolate chip one. Don’t even tell me that you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Have you ever seen an engineering supply vendor arrive with fruit cups?

Lunchtime pizza or catered lunch keeps the engineers at work, working at their desks. Added bonus…it’s free! I’ve heard rumors of enlightened environments which provide Bubble Tea and Yoga for lunch to invigorate the workers but I haven’t actually seen this myself. Sounds like a West Coast thing. And the candy dishes are everywhere! It’s like Halloween all summer long. At least most jobs provide dental insurance. After working in a constant sugar stream for a few years, many office workers have gained a lot of weight. Even more dangerously, their habit is to be sedentary while working because no one stands while typing do they?

Isn’t this all counter productive? The heavier we are, the less energy we have, and it affects our brain speed. If we want to remain reasonably weight gain free, it’s better to skip the free food altogether. Just walk on by with our hands over our eyes. Or work at one of the Yoga and Bubble Tea companies.

Thanks for the yummy donut snap PKing Design


We get two fruit baskets a week for a group of sixteen people, and an hour of paid exercise during work time. The building has a free fitness hall, sauna and bouldering/table tennis hall.

There usually are some chocolates on the common table, but these are bought and brought by the engineers themselves.

OOH! The fruit baskets and especially the hour of paid exercise sound fantastic. Your company has the right idea, I bet the exercise cuts down on the crabby at work factor AND keeps everyone in shape.
Um.. can you share your location?

So true but, I have bad self control so I tend to eat it anyways.
which is why I never bring junk food into my house.
btw I don’t work in an office.

I know a few engineering professors who have desks that they stand at, but mainly because of back problems, rather than weight loss (they were not overweight to begin with). Standing still does not use that many more calories than sitting anyway.

Despite what it says in PhD comics, though, free food is less available to faculty and grad students than it is to office workers, and college campuses tend to be spread out enough that getting some exercise is almost inevitable.

Actually, our company feeds us, not the vendors. Friday is bagel day! We get free fruit and break, which is nice, and free soda and coffee. I’ve noticed I drink more soda now then I ever used to, just because it’s there.

Also, candy bars are not free, which I think is an interesting twist.

I definitely snack on fruit more often than candy, because it’s free.

Sophi, you are right about engineers with sedentary jobs and lots of high calorie junk food around. Add job stress and eating fast food (due to short project deadlines). It takes a lot of willpower to eat right and exercise.

The worst temptation that I’ve heard was from my wife. She worked at the Krispy Kreme Donut headquarters for a while. They always had stacks of fresh donuts – some were new experimental recipes that they wanted opinions about. She was able to resist since she’s used to watching her sugar, but I know I’d be in trouble!

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